The WMO Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP) is now being extended to the Eastern Caribbean islands. SWFDP launched in 2006 in 5 Southern African countries, and now serves more than 50 countries globally, providing them with reliable forecasts of hazardous weather in support of disaster risk reduction. Its ongoing sub-projects cover Southern and Eastern Africa, the Southwest Pacific, the Bay of Bengal, Southeast and Central Asia and the Eastern Caribbean, and will also include West Africa later this year.
SWFDP uses a “Cascading Forecasting Process” – global to regional to national:
- Global Centres provide Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) products, including probabilities for a specific time frame;
- Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres interpret the information received from the Global Centres and prepare daily guidance products (1–5 day) for distribution to National Meteorological Centres;
- National Meteorological Centres issue alerts, advisories, severe weather warnings; liaise with disaster management and other economic sectors, and contribute feedback on the project.
At the end of May, an expert group developed the implementation plan for the Eastern Caribbean sub-project, which will follow the SWFDP’s general methodology. Canada, France, ECMWF and the United States of America will act as global NWP centres for the sub-project. The regional office of Météo France in Martinique will serve as a regional forecast support facility and will issue daily severe weather forecast guidance products for use by the National Meteorological Centres of participating island states and territories whom, in turn, will issue advisories and severe weather warnings. National Meteorological Centres responsibilities include liaising with disaster management and other economic sectors and providing feedback through quarterly performance reports. The National Hurricane Center (Miami, USA), continues to be responsible for hurricane updates and warnings in the sub-region.
The Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in Barbados will contribute to the sub-project as a regional technical support centre. It will focus on capacity development through specialized training workshops to enhance the interpretation and use of forecast products in order to improve severe weather forecasting skills and strengthen engagement with users.
The Bay of Bengal and Southwest Pacific sub-projects are ready to enter demonstration and operational phases respectively. The Southwest Pacific sub-project, covering the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, was launched in 2009. The Bay of Bengal sub-project, launched in January 2012, was expanded in 2016 to cover nine countries in the region including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.